U.S. President Joe Biden hosted Israeli President Isaac Herzog at the White House on Wednesday in the Oval Office, just one week before Israel will hold its general elections and two weeks ahead of the U.S. midterms.
Herzog told Biden that the timing of his visit epitomizes that “our friendship, our strong bond, transcends all political differences and opinions and parties.”
During their conversation, the two leaders praised the maritime border deal that Israel has reached with Lebanon through American mediation. Biden called the agreement an “extraordinary breakthrough” that took “a lot of courage.”
“I compliment you and I compliment the government,” Biden said to the Israeli president. “This agreement is going to allow the development of energy fields and for both countries to create new hope and economic opportunities for the people of Lebanon [and] enhance stability and security.”
Herzog thanked the Biden administration for “moving forward and carving the deal” that will be officially signed on Thursday.
Nevertheless, the deal with Lebanon is not being accepted by a large consensus within the State of Israel. Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu recently called the agreement a “historic surrender” to “all of Hezbollah’s demands.”
While Israeli lawmakers are divided on whether the deal will strengthen or weaken national security, Biden reaffirmed the U.S. has an "ironclad" commitment to Israel.
“I’ve said this 5,000 times in my career: The ironclad commitment the United States has to Israel based on our principles, our ideals, our values. They’re the same values. I have often said, Mr. President, if there were not an Israel, we’d have to invent one,” Biden said.
Herzog emphasized that the U.S. is Israel’s “closest, strongest, historical ally.”
In remarks made later to the media, Herzog noted that Iran was the main topic on the agenda of his conversation with Biden.
“We discussed mainly the issue of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, Iran’s crushing of its own citizens in a brutal, vicious, and malicious way, and Iran’s activities supplying armaments that are killing innocent Ukrainian civilians,” Herzog said.
In addition, Herzog and Biden spoke about the issue of anti-Semitism, Israel’s inclusion in the Middle East and its participation at the U.N.’s climate summit in Egypt in two weeks.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.